Can Pachuca, Tigres maintain Liga MX dominance over MLS in CONCACAF?
Round 12 of matches in the Liga MX 2017 Clausura left Toluca as the surprise leader, but attention has quickly switched to a busy midweek of cup action.
In the CONCACAF Champions League, it's Liga MX vs. MLS in the semifinal second legs, with Tigres and Pachuca seeking to make it another all-Mexican final. Seven of the last 10 CCL title games have been disputed between two Liga MX clubs, with the Vancouver Whitecaps and FC Dallas looking to become the first MLS team to win the competition since the LA Galaxy won in 2000.
Then, there are Copa MX semifinals, with Cruz Azul facing Morelia and Monterrey taking on Chivas.
Here's a look at what's to come in each of the four matchups:
Pachuca hosts FC Dallas in potential CCL classic (Tues., 10 p.m. ET)
The most tantalizing game of the week. This will be the 48th time an MLS side has played an official game in Mexico against a Liga MX team. A record of just two wins and eight draws over those matches puts the toughness of the game into perspective. On top of that, Los Tuzos boast the best recent home record in Liga MX and have not lost across competitions in over a year (29 games) at Estadio Hidalgo.
Crucially, FC Dallas takes a 2-1 lead from the first leg into the game and it will be fascinating to see if Oscar Pareja's team opens up and goes for an away goal or prioritizes the clean sheet that would send them through.
Pachuca couldn't get past Puebla on Saturday, tying 0-0, and has not been in the best of form of late. The major boost for Los Tuzos, however, is that winger Hirving "Chucky" Lozano -- the CCL's highest scorer this season (six) -- is back after missing the first leg through injury.
Pareja's Dallas plays a style of football that is easy on the eye and isn't too different from the brand of soccer that most Liga MX teams try to produce, making Tuesday's game a potential CCL classic.
Whitecaps eye difficult comeback against Tigres (Wed., 10 p.m. ET)
As much as Tigres coach Ricardo "Tuca" Ferretti played down the decisiveness of the 2-0 first-leg victory at Estadio Universitario, the Whitecaps need an awful lot to go right to advance to the final.
Tigres did slip up last weekend, losing 1-0 at home to Leon, and Vancouver impressed in its 4-2 victory over the LA Galaxy, but turning the deficit around is a tough ask against the Liga MX champions. Tigres are arguably the strongest team in the league and possess perhaps its best two players in Andre-Pierre Gignac and Guido Pizarro.
An early goal would rally the crowd at BC Place and the artificial playing surface won't be to Tigres' liking, but the side from Nuevo Leon has enough experience in playoffs like this to get the job done.
Cruz Azul seeks Copa MX comforts at Morelia (Tues., 8 p.m. ET)
How Cruz Azul manager Paco Jemez needs a win. The coach watched his team crumble last Friday in a 3-1 defeat at Veracruz and was fiercely criticized in the aftermath of the match. The Copa MX has almost become a refuge and the Mexico City team will be desperate to advance to the final to paint a little bit of positivity on what has been a poor opening to 2017.
Striker Martin Cauteruccio could be back from injury to lead La Maquina's line, while for Morelia this competition is of secondary importance. Monarcas' No. 1 priority is avoiding relegation from Liga MX, meaning a Copa MX final would be a welcome bonus.
Monterrey-Chivas the pick of Copa MX semis (Wed., 9:30 p.m. ET)
There have been differing approaches from Monterrey's Antonio Mohamed and Chivas coach Matias Almeyda for Copa MX games.
Mohamed has largely stuck to his best XI, using cup games to refine tactics, while Almeyda has given fringe players a chance to play and push for a spot in the first team. Whether the Chivas manager will once again stick to fielding an alternative side against a strong Monterrey unit remains to be seen, especially considering that in the semifinal against Juarez the team was 2-0 down until Rodolfo Pizarro, Orbelin Pineda and Alan Pulido were summoned from the bench and Chivas won 3-2.
Pizarro's injury is a blow to Chivas, with former FC Dallas winger Alex Zendejas possibly in line for minutes. If the visitors do win, the final would be played in Guadalajara.
It'll be a full stadium in Monterrey and Rayados against Chivas is the pick of the Copa MX semis.
Tom Marshall covers Liga MX and the Mexican national team for ESPN FC. Twitter: @MexicoWorldCup.